The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said this week it is likely to seek advice about the potential health dangers of energy drinks, in the wake of reports of deaths and injuries possibly related to the products.
In a letter, the FDA said it is considering asking advice from an outside group such as the Institute of Medicine, The New York Times reports. The agency has received reports of 18 deaths and more than 150 injuries that mention the possible involvement of energy drinks, including 5-Hour Energy, Monster Energy and Red Bull.
The reports do not prove a product was responsible for a death or injury, the article notes. The products’ manufacturers have said they are safe, and are not responsible for the reported deaths and injuries.
The letter was written to Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who have called on the FDA to regulate energy drinks and investigate the safety of ingredients with stimulant properties in combination with the caffeine found in the drinks.
“There is very clearly a lack of understanding about the health effects of energy drinks and their ingredients especially on children and adolescents,” Durbin said in a news release. “I am glad to see that the FDA is undertaking a review but more needs to be done and quickly.”
Last year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued a report that found a sharp rise in the number of emergency department visits linked with the use of non-alcohol energy drinks, from 1,128 visits in 2005, to 13,114 in 2009. The report noted that energy drinks are marketed to appeal to youth, and are consumed by up to half of children, teenagers and young adults.